What Is Sleep Apnoea?
If you manage to keep a healthy sleep cycle and yet often find yourself tired and irritable throughout the day, then you might be one of the many people with undiagnosed sleep apnoea. But what exactly is sleep apnoea?
An OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea) occurs when muscles and soft tissues in the throat relax and collapse sufficiently to cause a total blockage of the airway; it is called an apnoea when the airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more. OSA only occurs during sleep, this is due to the fact that it is caused by a lack of muscle tone in the upper airway that causes the airway to collapse. During the day we have sufficient muscle tone to keep the airway open, allowing for normal breathing. Should you experience an episode of apnoea during sleep, your brain will automatically wake you, usually with a loud snore or snort, in order to breathe again. Apnoea sufferers will experience multiple awakenings throughout the night and as a result, they will feel fatigued and tired throughout the day.
How do I know if I suffer?
Sufferers of apnoea are likely to complain of excessive daytime sleepiness and find themselves restless or irritable. That said, it is usually their bed partner who notices the symptoms first. Sufferers of apnoea may experience any of the following on a regular basis:
- Loud heavy snoring, regularly interrupted by pauses and gasps
- Excessive daytime sleeping (at work, watching TV, etc.)
- Easily irritable
- Morning headaches
- Poor memory
- Quick changes in mood or behaviour
- Anxiety or depression
There are forms of treatment for sleep apnoea. If you believe you or your partner suffer from sleep apnoea, then you should visit your GP who will be able to discuss several forms of treatment.